Tag Archives: slaves

Slaves in the White House

From a very interesting article in the International Herald Tribune

“…Slaves who worked inside and outside the White House were known for their labors. Washington planner Pierre L’Enfant rented slaves from nearby slaveowners to dig the foundation for the White House, and White House designer James Hoben used some of his slave carpenters to build the White House.

President George Washington forced slaves from Mount Vernon to work as staff inside “the President’s House” in Philadelphia during his term, starting a tradition of enslaved men and women working for the president in his residence that would continue until the 1850s. Not only did they work in the White House, enslaved men and women lived there as well.

According to the White House Historical Association, the slave and servant quarters were in the basement, now called the ground floor. The rooms now include the library, china room, offices and the formal Diplomatic Reception Room. At least one African-American baby was born there, in 1806 to Fanny and Eddy, two of Jefferson’s slaves. The child, who was considered a slave too, died two years later.

History values these slaves for more than just their labor. Continue reading


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How Movies Get Black History All Wrong

From: Can movies teach us about African-American history?
By Bruce Dancis – The Sacramento Bee

Can movies or television really teach us anything useful about African-American history?

Certainly, the legacy of such famous films as “The Birth of a Nation” (1915) and “Gone With the Wind” (1939) was to give the public a distorted view of slavery, the Civil War and Reconstruction while offering portrayals of African Americans that were either virulently hateful or condescending.

And because of such films, says Patricia Turner, professor of African-American studies at University of California, Davis, “a lot of the public thinks that the plantation was the dominant entity on which slaves lived during the era of slavery.”

In fact, Turner says, “very, very few slaves lived on plantations. Most slaves lived in units that had 10 or fewer slaves on them. Very few black women were domestic servants; you had to be extraordinarily wealthy to take a woman out of the fields and to have female household servants as we see in ‘Gone With the Wind,’ ‘North and South’ and the other great plantation epics.

“They don’t match the way that slavery unfolded for blacks.”

Even a more recent film like “Glory” (1989), which is far better intentioned in its depiction of African Americans, “is pretty inaccurate historically,” Turner says. “The [Civil War] movie ends up being about the colonel, the white man, rather than about the African-American soldiers.

“The movie gives you the impression that the soldiers were largely from the South and were illiterate, and they weren’t. They were free blacks from the North and were fairly well educated for the most part.”

So, the answer to the question: Can movies or television teach us anything useful about African-American history?

It’s a qualified yes. Continue reading

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Chocolate: The taste of Slavery

“There may be a hidden ingredient in the chocolate cake you baked, the candy bars you sold for your school fund-raiser, or that fudge-ripple ice cream cone you enjoyed on Saturday afternoon”, says Sudarsan Raghavan and Sumana Chatterjee Knight Ridder Newspapers Reporters. The truth behind the chocolate is anything but sweet. On the Ivory Coast of Africa, the origin of nearly half of the world’s cocoa, hundreds of thousands of children work or are enslaved on cocoa farms. With poverty running rampant and average cocoa revenues ranging from $30-$108 per household member per year, producers have no choice but to utilize child labor for dangerous farming tasks. Some children, seeking to help their poor families, even end up as slaves on cocoa farms far from home. Slavery drags on and we are paying the slaveholder’s wages.

Slave labor. Forty-three percent of the world’s cocoa beans, the raw material in chocolate, come from small, scattered farms in this poor West African country of Ivory Coast. In addition, on some farms, boys sold or tricked into slavery do the hot, hard work of harvesting the fruit.” (The Inquirer) Most are between 12 and 16; some are as young as nine. Many are lured from their hometowns with the promise of good-paying jobs, taken to Ivory Coast, and sold by traffickers to farmers for less than $50. The boy, pictured here, is an ex-slave; he escaped to freedom, and to share his story.What is it really like for a child caught up in the world of chocolate trafficking? Distinguished children’s author Bob Hartman has written a special story for STOP THE TRAFFIK telling the story of one little boy who discovers that his dream of earning a living and supporting his family can become a nightmare when he falls into the clutches of the traffickers.

Suitable for reading aloud, for children to read themselves, or for printing out and distributing to classes and youth groups, Chaga and the Chocolate factory is available free for you to download as a 14 page illustrated PDF e-book.

Simply click the link below to join Chaga’s adventure … and learn more about how we can all work together to ensure many more real life “Chaga” stories have happier endings.

download JPEG Chaga and the Chocolate Factory
File size: 768kb

To download right click the on the blue text and select ‘Save Target As …’. You will need Adobe Acrobat, which you can download for free from the Adobe web site.

Acrobat Reader

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